A Northampton-based engineering company has enjoyed a boom in sales thanks to the resurgence in popularity of vinyl records.
Polymer bearings manufacturer igus has become a key supplier to Rega, one of the country’s leading makers of high-end turntables.
The recent upsurge in interest in vinyl records saw Rega’s sales rocket to an average of 3,500 turntables a month, and the company turned to igus for the supply of high-precision components to help it meet demand.
“Rega used to source steel ball bearings from the Far East for use in its tonearms, the movable part of a record player that permits the needle to follow the record groove,” said Matthew Aldridge, igus’ managing director. “But as demand for vinyl and its turntables grew, it was struggling with lead times and shipping costs.”
Also, as metal bearings require regular lubrication, Rega was concerned about potential maintenance issues over time, as well as the possibility of the ingress of contaminants, such as dust.
“Rega was therefore keen to explore the use of new materials to produce a perfectly balanced, absolutely friction-free tonearm,” said Mr Aldridge.
The solution was igus’ xiros tribopolymer ball bearings, which are self-lubricating, and dry running, and therefore maintenance-free and impervious to contamination.
The xiros bearings are currently used in Rega’s top two selling turntables, and are also now being evaluated for use in other tonearms and turntables in the range.
Roy Gandy, owner of Rega, said that a high-end turntable was the sum of its parts, and that the igus bearings had become crucial components in two of its top-selling models.
“We think of the turntable not only as a means of playback, but as a precision measuring device that has to track and interpret the groove in each piece of vinyl it reads.
“The xiros bearings are critical in helping us achieve this ambition and we have enjoyed working hand-in-hand with the talented igus engineers to make this happen.”